Having worked in this great sport for exactly 50 years now not many things upset me but the abandonment of Newcastle on Saturday was close to the top of the scale.
With 7 runners planned over Saturday & Sunday at Newcastle it was a big weekend for a small yard like ours! Just imagine when I received a phone call 2 hours before racing to the told by a former top jockey that there was no way they would race as the track was rock hard and frozen.
Less than an hour before racing commenced the going was changed from Standard to Slow to Standard. Still no mention of any problem with racing set to go ahead until various jockeys and trainers started ‘knocking on the door’ of the Stewards Room.
The rest as they say is history but what riled many people was the Clerk of the Course going on Sky Sports Racing and saying that in her opinion the surface was perfectly safe to race on and the jockeys & trainers had got it wrong!
This morning (Sunday) racing was abandoned again . Why? Ms Quayle stated on the BHA website because of ‘Hard Ground. Despite deep cultivating work, insufficient improvement from yesterday’. So according to her there was some improvement from yesterday but not enough for racing to go ahead. It was (in her words) HARD GROUND.
Thank god racing didn’t go ahead as the welfare of our horses & riders is obviously paramount. However despite having incurred hundreds of pounds of costs yesterday in getting 3 horses to the track, our confidence in decision making at the course for the rest of the Winter is a concern!